In April 2009, about five people were killed and three dozen others sustained injuries after the tour bus they were riding in rolled over in Soledad, California.
According to reports, the driver of the bus, which was carrying Canadian and French tourists, suddenly swerved and hit the guardrail of an overpass along Front Street. The vehicle then struck the left-side railing before it spun out of control.
A number of passengers were thrown off the vehicle due to the accident's impact.
The driver of the bus, which is owned by the Orange County-based Orion Pacific Tour Bus Co., reportedly caused the crash but can no longer be held liable because he is one of the people who were killed in the incident.
Authorities said the fatal accident occurred because the driver made a dangerous turn.
This incident shows how a simple mistake made by the operator of a common carrier caused the death of innocent people.
Common Carrier Liability
Drivers or owners of common carriers can be held liable for deaths and injuries in an accident. They are required to exercise utmost diligence and care to passengers. Failure to do so is punishable by the law, especially if their negligence resulted in a fatal crash.
Examples of common carriers include the following:
Â· Mule trains
Â· Taxi cabs
The person who will be required to drive a common carrier should be carefully chosen because he will have full control of the vehicle and the lives of the people who were riding it.
In general, the driver or company's duty to protect passengers of common carriers starts when:
Â· A person has put himself under the vehicle's control or showed his intention to ride in it.
Â· The driver has accepted the person as his passenger.
Liability may be attached to the company if the driver performed the following:
Â· Tried to load in a dangerous area
Â· Started even before his passenger was safely aboard and seated
Â· Suddenly closed the door on his passenger
Meanwhile, a driver's duty ends after his passenger has dismounted the vehicle along a relatively safe place, which is out of the other traffic's path. In addition, the passenger will no longer be under the driver's care if he is already safe from dangers that may be caused by the vehicle's operations.
Under the law, drivers are required to uphold the safety not only of their passengers, but also other road users, especially pedestrians. They should respect the presence of other people on the roads because doing so will enable them to avoid accidents.